Snow clearing should be essential service

In a timely presentation given the city’s budget was to be finalized four days later, representatives of CAW Local 2301 brought snow clearing to the table at council’s meeting last Monday night.

In a timely presentation given the city’s budget was to be finalized four days later, representatives of CAW Local 2301 brought snow clearing to the table at council’s meeting last Monday night.

President Gary Warren presented a petition signed by more than 500 people calling for a return to the snow clearing policy that existed prior to the 2010 budget deliberations.

At that time council decided, as a cost cutting measure, to increase the trigger point for hitting residential streets from three inches of snow on the ground and snow still falling to five inches and falling.

That change related to “after hours” Monday to Friday and on weekends.

While he recognised the cost saving aspect, Warren pointed out the result had been his members getting stuck on local streets and elderly people in particular having problems.

He therefore asked council to reconsider its decision and “use tax dollars for snow clearing”.

Cam Wiebe, the local’s financial secretary-treasurer reminded council that in February of 2008 a delegation from the BC Government Employees Union had told council of its concerns about highway snow clearing standards compared to standards prior to privatization.

And this night CAW 2301 was coming to council with similar concerns about the clearing of Kitimat’s own streets.

He also recalled the campaign several years ago led by the late Ross Slezak and then-councillor Joanne Monaghan to improve highway clearing standards.

And pointed to now mayor Monaghan’s biographical notes on the city’s website. There she lists her achievements and notes, “Among the more recent is acting on people’s concerns to get Highway # 37 South upgraded from a “B” class road to an “A” class road for maintenance standard purposes, which means additional funds for snow removal.”

Like the delegation in 2008, Wiebe told council, they were asking for a return to earlier standards.

“There are some services in Kitimat that should be maintained whatever the cost,” he said, adding snow clearing should be considered an essential service here just as much as fire protection and the RCMP.

Crediting city snow crews with doing “a great job”, Monaghan pointed out she had publicly made her own views known on the need to re-examine the policy.

And while she was not saying the policy should not be reconsidered, councillor Corrine Scott said the snow clearing in Kitimat was the best she’d seen anywhere.